TITLE: Fables of the Reconstruction
YEAR RELEASED: 1985
CHART ACTION: #28 US, #35 UK
SINGLES: Can’t Get There from Here (#14 Mainstream), Driver 8 (#22 Mainstream), Wendell Gee
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Feeling Gravity’s Pull, Maps and Legends
LINEUP: Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Bill Berry.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moody, dark album changes things up a bit for the group, but some of the songs are the weakest of their output so far.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I remember, after playing this album a few times, being disappointed by some of the tracks, as they were too dark and murky and at times impenetrable. I still think that about some of the tracks but a few have moved into my personal favorites for the group.
It’s an album full of eccentric people and visions, and the opening two tracks (“Feeling Gravity’s Pull” and “Maps and Legends”) are fantastic songs that you really need to work through, but once the light hits, you have it. Yet, some of the character studies and expressionistic songs just don’t do as well as the others.
The band got a couple of great college radio hits and some more play on MTV, setting the stage for their commercial move forward. It was a bit of an artistic retreat, or perhaps a re-calibration.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was recorded in London, and is the only REM album recorded outside the US
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a big ol’ deluxe with B-sides, outtakes and a whole live set.
GRADE: B: As I said, I like many of the songs, but I’m not enamored with some and the album as a whole piece of work.